profile of dark-skinned black woman with natural hair wearing a sleeveless top. Golden lights are over her shoulder and a wine glass in front of her.

Finding Nikki Velvet

Karin Kallmaker Book News, Checked Out, Coin of Love Series, Covered Hearts, Knight of Nights, Velvet in Venice, Wind in Her Hair 10 Comments

I have an itchy brain, and it pokes at me when a group of things has one item not like the others. Like when all the towels but one face fold-out on a shelf – what kind of madness is that!? I wish it had kicked in a little bit earlier on my latest project, though.

One of These Things . . .

If you follow me on social media, you know I was having a crisis of “One of these Things Is Not Like the Other” about my new Coin of Love novella series cover art. It was making my brain itch.

Once the next four installments were planned and the covers set side-by-side with Velvet in Venice, the five covers looked like this:

The itch in my brain was that the lovely gondola, canal, and old building on Velvet was nothing like any of the other covers, all of which featured a character from the story inside and conveyed (at least I hope so) the time period of the story.

I Am Sad

This was a sad realization, because I loved the Classic Gondola art from the moment I saw it. It’s a close-up of Venice’s many contrasts – a graceful watercraft against the bright paint on walls and window shutters, with the mold and decay living on water brings to an ordinary building in Venice, merely a few centuries old. The photograph could have been taken yesterday or 400 years ago (if cameras had been around then).

A conundrum. My heart, it adores the Classic Gondola. My brain – surveying the now finished covers of the next four stories – asked, “Is this is a story about a gondola or a woman?” You know the answer to that as well as I do.

The Search Began

One thing I knew for certain – I wouldn’t update the cover if I couldn’t find Nikki Velvet. The story is named after her. I knew I would be searching for a needle in the proverbial haystack. The haystack being the world of stock photography and the needle a young black woman with natural hair in a romantic setting. Plus not rail thin, sad, angry, or hypersexualized.

Let me simply say that the underrepresentation of the full range of black women in stock photography remains appalling even though it is better now than just a few years ago. It took hours of searching to finally find her.

With a little Photoshop magic to overlay the Venice skyline, a color pop or two to highlight reds and golds, and the Golden Chanteuse cover of Velvet in Venice was born. And I fell in love with the cover of this book all over again.

A glowing young black woman with natural hair and red lips looks over her should through mottled light at the Grand Canal and skyline of St. Marcos Plaza in Venice. A glass of deep red wine is in the foregound. Text reads A Coin of Love Romance, Velvet in Venice, Karin Kallmaker, Goldie and Lammy Winning Author

I Am Happy

Tah duh! Now, all of these things are like the others.

The Golden Chanteuse cover of Velvet in Venice has propagated to all the distributors for the eBook format. If you purchased it from one of the big retailers, it will update on its own.

If you purchased your copy from Bella Books or here at, you have the option to keep the Classic Gondola cover, or you can update your download by visiting your account at either site. Either way, the story inside is the same: Artie and Nikki get the push they need at just the right moment to find the love they deserve.

P.S. Paperback versions of the Classic Gondola cover are now collector’s items, though you can still get one from me – I have a couple left.

Are You Here from the GCLS Hub?

If so, you’re in the right place to enter for a drawing of the updated version of the eBook. All you have to do is comment following this prompt:

The one place on the entire planet I most want to visit is __________.

If you have a picture of it, feel free to share!

I’ll draw a winner Sunday morning or thereabouts, February 4, 2023.

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